First Listen Review attempts to capture my first impressions of the year’s Eurovision entries as and when they’re released. My opinion is liable to change as certain songs grow on me or get revamped, but based on the principle that most listeners will only hear each entry once (or twice) before voting, hopefully it’ll provide some insight.
Lisa Angell – N’oubliez Pas
After enduring the ignominy of last place in 2014, France appear to be banking on a throwback to former glories with this year’s effort. N’oubliez Pas is a dramatic ballad in the classic French mould, performed by experienced chanteuse Lisa Angell and composed by Robert Goldman, who was also the writer behind the country’s 4th-placed 2001 entry Je n’ai que mon âme by Natasha St Pier.
When the French get this genre right, the results can be spectacular, so this is a gambit I’m more than happy to get behind. What a pity then, that N’oubliez Pas is such an underwhelming effort. The fault isn’t Angell’s – she’s a powerful vocalist in the Natasha St Pier/Tina Arena vein, but she’s given precious little to work with here.
The song follows the same basic format as Goldman’s previous effort – starting off quiet and melancholy and gradually building in intensity (and volume) as it progresses. But unlike the triumphant final minute of Je n’ai que mon âme, N’oubliez Pas never gathers any real momentum. Angell gets a chance to show of the breadth of her range, but the arrangement remains resolutely plodding. Just as it sounds like it’s moving in the right direction, it fizzles out.
If France are looking to restore dignity to their Eurovision profile after Twin Twin’s amateurish performance last year, they should have little to worry about here. Angell is unlikely to embarrass herself, and the French can usually be relied upon to put together an effective stage show. But the song fails the fundamental test of Eurovision in the televoting era – it simply isn’t memorable. For that reason, unless it’s subject to an excellent revamp or is disproportionately favoured by the juries, I can’t see this climbing higher than around 18th – a noble failure, but a failure all the same.